I decided to post some pictures of our [work in progress] coop! The need for a coop was obvious when we first bought our chickens; there had to be some place for them to live and lay eggs. But living in the city with chickens is hard, especially when your family is inexperienced with many animals and with zero experience building. Luckily we had the luxury of being able to hire contractors to build any plans we designed, a task which was very quickly delegated to me. After the spontaneous purchase of our first ever rabbit (bought on impulse to "comfort" the kids after one of the chick's death, though really just because my mom wanted a cute bunny) and the insistence that it had to live outside, I was faced with the job of designing a functional and spacious chicken coop and rabbit hutch in one.
Despite our initial plan to build the coop in the yard, my mom decided she wanted it in our concrete breezeway on a narrow stretch of decorative rocks under the outdoor stairs.
(Sorry for the sideways picture!) To accommodate for the awkward angle of the stairs, I designed it like a wedge in order to get as much ground space as possible since I was limited by only 4 feet of width. The idea was to have a 2x4x2 foot rabbit hutch with a wooden frame and, sparing no expense, strong galvanized rabbit wire like the kind the small rabbit cages are made with. I also designed it to be equipped with a dropping tray and two doors on either side to make cleaning easy. Above that would be three nest boxes built on top of it so that the chickens and rabbit were separate, but still optimizing the space. The nest boxes would be accessible individually from the outside of the coop so I can eventually gather eggs without disturbing the hens, and a storage bin on top of that for storing their smaller supplies. From that vertical stack would be a wooden wedge frame with covered in chicken wire and a door to get inside. Because of the limited amount of chickens we would be able to keep, I realized that instead of letting an extra nest box sit and collect dust, we could build a wired off ramp up from the rabbit's pen to the extra nest box so she would have a fun change of level and a place to take shelter when the weather got rough.
Feeling pretty confident of my plan, I met with the contractor and showed him my plans and showed him the space. He obviously didn't take me very seriously (not many people hold 16 year olds to high expectations), but I thought I had made what I wanted and envisioned pretty clear. Until the coop was finally finished and delivered and I came home to this...
At first glance it seems okay. But then I got closer.
He made the coop a good two feet shorter than what I asked for under the excuse that he took that liberty so rain wouldn't reach the hutch, despite the fact that the area the coop os on is covered and I had a bought a tarp to cover the exposed side in bad weather. As a side effect, the door is so short that you have to stoop to get in rather than being a full length door.
He added a foot onto the length and height of the rabbit hutch, left a door off of the the front side of the hutch and the one that he installed was crooked and wouldn't lock. Instead of using the extra nest box as a fun level change and shelter, he built a virtually inaccessible house and used flimsy, cheap wire with holes too small to hang any of the food containers I already had, forcing us to buy new bowls.
The paint was very poorly done and splotchy. The nest boxes were perfect from the outside, but the storage door pulled down instead of having two doors like a cabinet and was crooked as well, rendering it a unable to lock and hard to open.
Instead of the back walls being wire, they were completely boarded up and left almost no air flow, and because of the metal roof, the Texas heat quickly made the coop uncomfortable and smelly. The perch ended up being only one instead of two, and much lower than the nest boxes. While the chickens are sleeping on the perch for now, I'm worried when they get older they'll begin to sleep and consequently poop in the nest boxes because of this botched construction.
The next boxes ended up being dauntingly high and built deep into the design, making it impossible for the pullets to access them. It was also very dark and incredibly unpleasant to stand in, but the lack of any other options and with ready to go chickens, we had to make do until the contractor could come back and fix everything. Unfortunately he had already been paid a whopping $1,800 for a completely wrong coop, and never returned any of my phone calls or requests for another meeting.
Nearly a month later, we've found another contractor, and within two days of meeting and discussing how to fix the coop he was installing the corrections!
Window like holes in the back wall for airflow and a nicer aesthetic.
Elongated nest boxes: not perfect, but better than before.
A ramp to the next boxes! Yay!
For now the food and water are on the ground until we can put either more sand or dirt in and I can figure out a way to suspend to keep it from getting so dirty!
And this is what it looks like from the front right now! He added the missing door so it's much much much easier to clean the rabbit hutch. This is still a work in progress so I'll update as things get finished, but I would love for any suggestions on where I can improve the coop and advice for making the living space for my ladies better. Thank you!
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